The recent death of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old businessman and college graduate, shot and killed in his own apartment in the middle of the night by an off-duty Dallas police officer, Amber Guyger, smells hauntingly familiar — exuding the stench of a putrid concoction of racism, jealousy, ignorance, hatred, denial and, dare I say it, white superiority. Now, Jean, due to no fault of his own, joins that infinitesimal group of Black brothers (and sisters) who have been profiled, harassed, stalked, corralled, enslaved, or eliminated — in this case gunned down, because — well, because they’re Black folk living in a world where their very existence evokes both envy and fear.
That fear, and of course envy, stem from an unfiltered history of the planet where Blacks once sat at the top of the human food chain. Long ago, our ancestors were the philosophers, the physicians, the theologians, the warriors, the agriculturalists, the architects, the teachers and the griots. But as white-skinned, former cave-dwelling humans realized the overall power, wealth and intelligence that rested in the hands of dark-skinned people, they began devising ways to take that which was not theirs. More than anything, they longed to become the world’s new rulers, gatekeepers and lawmakers — the master sitting on his throne, comfortably ensconced in “the big house” — sharing with Blacks was not an option.
And so, first in subtle, then later in more obvious ways, whites began to employ any means they could muster to initiate and promote the “dehumanization” of Black people, stripping away all semblances of their former humanity until they were reconfigured — transformed into creatures that were only partially human and therefore obviously incapable of love, hope, pain or sorrow. With their plan well underway, whites accelerated along their ignoble pursuit for power, prestige and worldwide domination without fear of ever feeling guilty because of how they were and, in the future, would mistreat and abuse members of the Black race.
Ironically, or predictably, Jean, initially the victim, has since become the bad guy — the Black man who wants to rape white daughters, who walks in the wake of wanton violence and who’d rather hang out on the corner with a 40 and a blunt in his hand, than occupy a seat in the boardroom.
That’s why officials searched the home of the victim, not the assailant, and came up with something useful—he was in possession of marijuana. The same thing happened to young Trayvon Martin who, after being murdered by a self-empowered, so-called “community watchman,” faced ridicule from the grave because records indicated that he’d gotten into trouble several times in school. Trayvon was a “bad boy” they said. Botham Jean was a “bad man” they said — so both “deserved” what happened to them.
From time to time, I wake up shuddering, having had a nightmare so powerful that I cannot decide if I’m witnessing an imaginary vista or a true-to-life encounter. My brothers and sisters still lament over what we do not have, what we once had and why we have been kept from achieving that which we have the right to pursue and reclaim. To that I say, when Blacks, from Soweto to South Central LA, re-embrace the power of the collective which once served as the anchor and foundation for the world’s Black community, then we will witness and celebrate that “great getting up morning” — a day when the only folks disappearing will be those still desperately clinging to the absurd noting that “I” matters more than “US.”